Data collection is a process of collecting information from all the relevant sources to find answers to the research problem, test the hypothesis (if you are following deductive approach) and evaluate the outcomes. Data collection methods can be divided into two categories: secondary methods of data collection and primary methods of data collection.
Secondary data is a type of data that has already been published in books, newspapers, magazines, journals, online portals etc. There is an abundance of data available in these sources about your research area in business studies, almost regardless of the nature of the research area. Therefore, application of appropriate set of criteria to select secondary data to be used in the study plays an important role in terms of increasing the levels of research validity and reliability.
These criteria include, but not limited to date of publication, credential of the author, reliability of the source, quality of discussions, depth of analyses, the extent of contribution of the text to the development of the research area etc. Secondary data collection is discussed in greater depth in Literature Review chapter.
Secondary data collection methods offer a range of advantages such as saving time, effort and expenses. However they have a major disadvantage. Specifically, secondary research does not make contribution to the expansion of the literature by producing fresh (new) data.
Primary data is the type of data that has not been around before. Primary data is unique findings of your research. Primary data collection and analysis typically requires more time and effort to conduct compared to the secondary data research. Primary data collection methods can be divided into two groups: quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative data collection methods are based on mathematical calculations in various formats. Methods of quantitative data collection and analysis include questionnaires with closed-ended questions, methods of correlation and regression, mean, mode and median and others.
Quantitative methods are cheaper to apply and they can be applied within shorter duration of time compared to qualitative methods. Moreover, due to a high level of standardisation of quantitative methods, it is easy to make comparisons of findings.
Qualitative research methods, on the contrary, do not involve numbers or mathematical calculations. Qualitative research is closely associated with words, sounds, feeling, emotions, colours and other elements that are non-quantifiable.
Qualitative studies aim to ensure greater level of depth of understanding and qualitative data collection methods include interviews, questionnaires with open-ended questions, focus groups, observation, game or role-playing, case studies etc.
Your choice between quantitative or qualitative methods of data collection depends on the area of your research and the nature of research aims and objectives.
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